Shifting global geopolitics and Europe's preparedness for managing risks, mitigation actions and fostering peace
Europe's strategic and geopolitical environment is evolving rapidly, will always be an area of change, and in a manner that increasingly raises concerns. In recent years, violent conflicts have agitated the planet, many of them located in Europe's immediate neighbouring regions. These developments take place at a time when global geopolitics is undergoing long-term transformations challenging the traditional predominance of the West, while policies of economic austerity oblige EU Member States to manage scarce resources more effectively. These trends seriously challenge the Union's capacity for guaranteeing its citizens' security - one of its principal raisons d'être - while also jeopardizing its aspiration of promoting European values and interests abroad. In order to evaluate and promote its preparedness for playing its role as an effective security provider, to prevent escalation, to manage and understand risks and mitigation strategies for peace beyond its borders, the EU needs to understand the implications of recent global developments and assess them against its own capacities and willingness to make synergetic use of them.
The research to address this challenge should focus on one or two dimensions that have to be comprehensively addressed. The research may also cover other issues relevant for addressing the specific challenge.
1) Recent global geopolitical developments and their implications for the European Union
Research under this dimension should adopt a comprehensive understanding of security and explore uncertainty. Based on this, it should identify and investigate long-standing and novel - global and regional - external risks facing the EU and its Member States, in connection with ongoing initiatives and programmes for risk identification and early warning. Crises in its neighbourhood (in particular East Europe and the southern Mediterranean), such as the rise of radical Islamic groups exemplified by the expansion of the "Islamic State" in Syria and Iraq, but also conflicts and risks in other regions of the world such as in South Asia (e.g. Afghanistan) and Sub-Saharan Africa (e.g. Mali) should be examined. Research should identify the most pressing risks and areas of uncertainty and unravel the causes, expressions and security-relevant consequences of such instable contexts.
It should examine possible inter-linkages between various geographically limited conflict situations as well as their embeddedness into regional and overarching global geopolitical developments. This necessitates a sound understanding of the political, socioeconomic, cultural and military contexts in which patterns of insecurity and uncertainty emerge, also from a historical and philosophical perspective. An inventory of contemporary risks should form the basis for identifying their implications for Europe and its security needs. Research should examine how potential risks, mitigation strategies and opportunities are perceived, and how they can, do and even should become part of novel approaches and policies in the EU, its Member States and its partners in geostrategic matters. It should investigate how the EU, its Member States and other relevant partners can act to better anticipate, prevent and respond to the identified risks, mitigation strategies and opportunities, and develop scenarios on possible EU activities using a range of policy actions and instruments, including diplomatic, economic, civilian and, if needed, military means.
2) European Union's preparedness for managing risks and opportunities, fostering peace in a crisis-ridden context
Research under this dimension should comprehensively examine the European Union's and its Member States' willingness, capacities, instruments and channels for anticipating and responding to a large array of external threats. It should contrast the EU's legal basis for external security policies, including risk analysis and management, conflict prevention and resolution, post-conflict management and peace-building, to the actual practice, both prior to and after the onset of the economic and financial crises. Analyses should draw on comparative case studies from the EU's handling of various conflicts and crises (including humanitarian ones) across the globe. Research should develop criteria for effective security cooperation in the EU, distinguishing between objectives and instruments, whether military or non-military, and contribute to the ongoing development of early-warning systems to identify emerging risks. It should also identify the political, socio-economic, technological and cultural conditions that enable or hinder the emergence of effective security cooperation in the EU. Based on this evidence, research should develop information sharing and decision support systems that facilitate cooperation, identify gaps and align the interests of diverse actors towards effective EU security policies, especially in the framework of its Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP). It should also provide insights on whether and how the EU can work synergistically together with individual third countries or international institutions like NATO.
The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU in the order of EUR 5 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. This does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.
Research under this topic will lead to an up-to-date appraisal of global and regional risks and, as such, of Europe's evolving security agenda in the light of recent geopolitical developments affecting its neighbouring regions (in particular East Europe and the southern Mediterranean), and the entire globe. It will generate critical and forward-looking evidence of Europe's preparedness for effectively facing these threats, guaranteeing its citizens' security while managing risks and fostering peace abroad. Based on this evidence, it will provide recommendations on how to improve the EU's effectiveness as a domestic and global security provider.